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SUVs have become wildly popular, while minivans have floundered for the past few years. Many consumers consider minivans less exciting than SUVs. However, minivans beat SUVs thanks to a not-so-secret weapon. They’re the only vehicle category with power-operating sliding doors.

Minivans rule with dual sliding doors

2023 Honda Odyssey: Best minivan for families
2023 Honda Odyssey interior | American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Most SUV shoppers overlook the significance of sliding doors. However, these features provide convenience to families, allowing easy access to the rear seats. Parents can easily help infants and small children in and out of the vehicle and load and unload cargo.

Sliding doors also come in handy in tight parking spaces or garages because they don’t require much clearance to open like regular car doors. The driver must simply slide the door parallel to the vehicle’s body.

On the other hand, SUVs’ doors are heavy and bulky, proving cumbersome to open and close on inclines. If a driver parks an SUV on a hill, gravity will work against the door, limiting the vehicle’s maneuverability. In addition, the restricted door motion can make loading and unloading passengers and cargo in inclined positions or tight spaces challenging. Minivans have no such issues.

Minivans’ generous passenger and cargo space also appeals to families

Cabin space is the number-one reason families choose SUVs. However, many probably don’t know that minivans are roomier. Minivans have low floors and deep cargo wells behind the third row. Even when packed with passengers, these vehicles still have room in the cargo hold for groceries, suitcases, gear, and strollers.

In addition, some minivans can double as cargo vans because the seats are removable. Though spacious, an SUV can’t beat a minivan’s interior capacity. According to Good Housekeeping, a typical minivan, such as the 2023 Chrysler Pacifica, seats up to eight. On the other hand, most SUVs accommodate five to seven passengers. Even if an SUV seats eight, it will be less spacious and less comfortable than a minivan.

More passenger and cargo space makes minivans better than SUVs at hauling families.

Minivans could be having a moment in an SUV-saturated market

While the SUV segment bulges with SUVs of all shapes and sizes, the humble minivan could be having a moment. Minivans have seen sales gains over the past year. Compared to 2022, Chrysler Pacifica sales are up by 82.1%, Honda Odyssey sales have risen by 61%, and Kia Carnival sales have increased by 80.83%. That could signal a shift and an opening for minivans to regain their position as the number-one family haulers.

GoodCarBadCar notes that consumers are noticing minivans’ essential practicality. These vehicles can seat more people, and their huge sliding doors and high seating position make attaching child car seats easy. Spacious cabins offer enough room for strollers, playpens, toys, and sporting gear.

Since ruling throughout the 1990s, minivans have battled to remain relevant. SUVs have usurped the throne and stigmatized the minivan. While minivans and SUVs are well-rounded vehicles for hauling people and cargo, the two have one unique difference. Minivans have power-operating sliding doors that offer the ultimate convenience — a feature absent in all SUVs.


The 2023 Honda Odyssey Is the Best Minivan for Families, Experts Say